*Bill Cosby’s legal team is reportedly facing off against the prosecution in the comedian’s sexual assault trial today as the court weighs whether or not it will allow the testimony of other women who also say they were sexually assaulted by Cosby.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the matter must be settled before Cosby can stand trial for allegedly sexually assaulting ex-Temple University employee Andrea Constand in 2004.
Via THR’s Ashley Cullins:
Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele claims that since the Commonwealth charged Cosby with aggravated indecent assault in Dec. 2015 it has investigated nearly fifty claims of “virtually identical drug-facilitated sexual assaults on women.”
Of those women, Steele is asking the court to allow 13 to testify as witnesses to “prior bad acts” – seeking to establish an “absence of mistake.” According to a brief filed by Steele’s office Tuesday, the basic logic is that as the number of similar incidents increases, the likelihood that the conduct was unintentional decreases.
Cosby’s legal team, led by Angela Agrusa and Brian McMonagle, claim that Steele is only prosecuting the comedian because he had to “go big” to win his campaign for DA.
“If it was not already apparent to the Court (or the world) prior to the hearing on the Commonwealth’s Motion, the prosecution has now made it fully transparent: This action is not about the accusations of Andrea Constand,” states Cosby’s brief filed Tuesday. “And, it never has been.”
Cosby’s attorneys argue that the DA doesn’t have a case based on evidence relating to Constand alone and needs testimony about accusations of unrelated third parties in order to convince a jury to convict the comedian, and allowing the accusers to testify would be an unjust effort to “breathe life into a meritless case.”
Agrusa and McMonagle also argue that the women truly have only one thing in common: attorney Gloria Allred — and they claim that several of her clients didn’t think they had been assaulted until after they heard other accusers come forward in the media.
“To the extent the Court sees any ‘fingerprint,’ it is Gloria Allred’s,” states Cosby’s brief. “She molded the accusers’ stories, packaged them up, spoon-fed them to the District Attorney’s Office, and manipulated the ‘screening’ by personally participating in the calls and meetings. And, District Attorney Steele allowed her to do so without conducting any independent investigation into the accusations and backgrounds of these proposed witnesses.”
Allred addressed the allegations in a statement sent to THR Wednesday:
“The alleged ‘fingerprints’ are not mine but those of Mr. Cosby, whom the prosecution claims sexually assaulted the prior bad act witnesses when they were incapacitated and unable to consent,” says Allred. “The prosecution argues that these witnesses should be permitted to testify because their testimony would be relevant to prove a common scheme plan or design by Mr Cosby, which the jury should be entitled to consider. The defense strategy appears to be to divert attention from Mr. Cosby’s alleged criminal behavior and to focus instead on the fact that a number of the prior bad act witnesses are represented by me. I am honored to represent a number of these brave proposed prior bad act witnesses who are willing to testify if the court permits them to do so.”
Cosby’s attorneys are also currently seeking a change of venue for the trial, arguing that extensive media coverage and Steele’s mention of the Cosby case during his campaign will impede a fair and impartial trial in Montgomery County. They argue that allowing these witnesses to testify would further diminish the likelihood of an unprejudiced jury.